Darren Emerson

Underwater, Episode 3

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For the third year in a row, the quintessential superstar party DJ shares his considerable clout with a member of his ever growing Underwater record label stable on the annual mixed compilation. For 2004 Darren Emerson selected his youngest charge, Paul Jackson, to mix the latter CD off the double-disc set, and if Jackson's own two club blazers, "Blockbuster" and "The Non Stop," are any indication, he'll soon follow the lead of Tim Deluxe in the move from sidekick to headliner in a matter of a few months. But first, Emerson -- the former Underworld batboy who ditched out just in time to watch the age of electronica superstars collapse -- instead positioned himself as a senior statesman of good times, recognizing that people will always want to dance to a full-steam-forward blend of techno, house, and trance, all of which he touches upon in this mix. Like all of Emerson's mix CD attempts, this one falls short only when you face down an hour of essentially the same tempo, like racing the full Indy 500 without a pit stop. Fortunately, Jackson slows things down and turns them around, going for the dark and funky before the fast and furious. For the first time, the master has perhaps been one upped by the student. Good thing Emerson is good-natured enough to not care.

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